Arkansas: Rice Research, Extension Center Receives $2Mln Donation

    Greenway Equipment donated $2 million to provide equipment and an exhibition hall for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center in Poinsette County. Photo: Ryan McGeeney, University of Arkansas

    The new Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center in Poinsett County is getting a $2 million boost from Greenway Equipment.

    Greenway executives John Conner, Jr., Chairman; Marshall Stewart, Chief Executive Officer; Steve Smith, Chief Financial Officer; and Bill Midkiff, President; announced the donation Friday with a check presentation at the station in Poinsett County, about 8 miles south of Jonesboro on Arkansas Highway 1.

    The $2 million gift provides $1 million for agricultural equipment at the station and $1million toward the construction of the NERREC exhibition hall, which will be a community resource.

    Unique production challenges

    The center is being built by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and will provide new research into rice production practices for northeast Arkansas and beyond. Arkansas is the nation’s leading rice growing state, and growers are expected to plant more than 1.2 million acres this year.

    Over the last few years, rice production in Arkansas has expanded northward. Differing soils in northeast Arkansas require different production practices from the rest of the state and that’s among the challenges researchers will tackle at the station.

    John L. Conner, Jr., Chairman of Greenway, is a University of Arkansas alumnus whose family has grown cotton, soybeans, and rice.

    “With having such an extensive family presence at the University of Arkansas, along with the importance of the rice market to our region, the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center is a great fit for this area and the communities involved,” he said.

    Marshall Stewart, Greenway’s Chief Executive Officer, said he believes that the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center will provide great benefits for the rice industry.

    “It will also open doors to new segments for our community to gain a better understanding of the importance that agriculture, specifically rice, plays in our region, state, and world,” he said. “Greenway is proud and honored to have the opportunity to help promote the positive narrative of agriculture.”

    Duty calls

    Greenway President Bill Midkiff said his company’s support of agriculture “in our local communities is not only a great opportunity, but also our duty”.

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    “Rice is a major crop grown within our region, and our desire with this partnership is to further enhance current research which will enable all growers to benefit from more sustainable, efficient, and profitable practices,” Midkiff said.

    It takes partnerships to help achieve wide-ranging research and education goals, said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System.

    “We are very pleased to have the support of Greenway, another entity that works hard to support Arkansas agriculture,” Cochran said. “These private-public partnerships are extremely important in moving forward research that can benefit not only our growers, but also help Arkansas agriculture in its important economic role as the state’s largest industry.”

    “This generous gift from Greenway is a foundational for the new station to begin its research and outreach missions,” said Tim Burcham, director of the NERREC, which is part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “I greatly appreciate the commitment Greenway has made to enhance the division’s programs that provide Arkansas producers with the unbiased information they need to continue to lead the nation in rice production.”

    Burcham said that when complete, the station will also have “research labs, facilities for community and industry meetings, and importantly, a learning space dedicated to educating grade school children and the general public on rice production in Arkansas.”

    Research to be conducted at the center includes water management from both surface and ground sources; remediation of fertility of recently leveled fields and the coordination of rice production practices to meet goals associated with conservation and sustainability. (See here)

    The center is being built in partnership with the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board, through the use of TRQ funds.

    Greenway Equipment, established in 1988 in Newport, Arkansas, now has 32 locations in Arkansas and Missouri and more than 700 employees.




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